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The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha

Leandra and Vincent soon came to a mutual understanding


that time there came to our village one Vincent de la Rosa, son of a poor farmer in the same place. This Vincent had returned from Italy and other countries, where he had served in the wars, having been carried away from our town at twelve years of age by a captain who happened to march that way with his company; and now, at the end of twelve years more, he came back in a soldier's garb, bedizened with a variety of colours, and covered with a thousand trinkets and glittering chains. To-day he put on one piece of finery, to-morrow another: but all slight and counterfeit, of little or no value. The country-folks (who are naturally envious, and, if they chance to have leisure, malicious too) observed, and reckoned up, all his trappings and gew-gaws, and found that he had three suits of apparel, of different colours, with hose and garters to them; but those he disguised in so many different ways, and with so much contrivance, that had they not been counted, one would have sworn that he had above ten suits, and twenty plumes of feathers. Do not look upon this description of his dress as impertinent or superfluous, for it is an important part of the story. He used to seat himself on a stone-bench, under a great poplar-tree in our market-place, and there he would hold us all gaping and listening to the history of his exploits. There was no country on the whole globe that he had not seen, nor battle in which he had not been engaged. He had slain more Moors than are in Morocco and Tunis;
and fought more single combats, according to his own account, than Gante, Luna, Diego Garcia de Paredes, and a thousand others, from which he always came off victorious, and without losing a drop of blood; at the same time he would shew us marks of wounds, which, though they were not to be discerned, he assured us were so many musket-shots, received in different actions. With the utmost arrogance, he would 'thee' and 'thou' his equals and acquaintance, and boast that his arm was his father, his deeds his pedigree, and that under the title of soldier he owed the king himself nothing. In addition to this boasting, he pretended to be somewhat of a musician, and scratched a little upon the guitar, which some people admired. But his accomplishments did not end here; for he was likewise something of a poet, and would compose a ballad a league and a half in length on every trifling incident that happened in the village.

"Now this soldier whom I have described, this Vincent de la Rosa, this hero, this gallant, this musician, this poet, was often seen and admired by Leandra from a window of her house, which faced the market-place. She was struck with the tinsel of his gaudy apparel; his ballads enchanted her; the exploits he related of himself reached her ears--in short, as ill-luck would have it, she fell downright in love with him before he had entertained the presumption of courting her; and, as in affairs of love none are so easily accomplished as those which are favoured by the inclination of the lady, Leandra and Vincent soon came to a mutual understanding; and before any of her numerous suitors had the least suspicion of her design, she had already accomplished it, and left the house of her affectionate father, and quitted the town with the soldier, who came off in this enterprise more triumphantly than in any of those of which he had so arrogantly boasted. This event excited general astonishment. Anselmo and I were utterly confounded, her father grieved, her kindred ashamed, justice alarmed, and the troopers of the holy brotherhood in full activity. They beset the highways, and searched the woods, leaving no place unexplored; and at the end of three days they found the poor giddy Leandra in the cave of a mountain, stripped of all her clothes and the money and jewels which she had carried away from home. They brought her back to her disconsolate father; and being questioned, she freely confessed that Vincent de la Rosa had deceived her, and upon promise of marriage had persuaded her to leave her father's house, telling her he would carry her to Naples, the richest and most delicious city in the whole world. The imprudent and credulous girl said that, having believed him, she had robbed her father, and given the whole to him on the night of her elopement; and that he had carried her among the mountains, and left her shut up in that cave.

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